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February 06, 1987 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-02-06

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Israelis In America

0 Goshen

Like the Biblical patriarchs during lean
times, modern-day Israelis are leaving
the land for greener pastures. Some are
finding their way to Detroit


Staff Writer


AVI GRUBER: "I came from a

small shul. There were no
- dues. It was an open house
because it was a house of God."

reaction in Israel to Israelis
who want to move back is
"Are you crazy?"

nce, when Israeli novelist
Amos Oz was walking the
streets of New York City, a
policeman waved him over
for some pedestrian infrac-
tion. As Oz approached, the cop said
to him:
"Mah, atah choshev she'atah
b'Hulda?" (Do you think that you're
at [Oz's kibbutz] Hulda?)
Oz was intrigued. Why would an
Israeli want to become a New York
City policeman, he wondered.
Oz's surreal encounter was not
an isolated event. There are between
300,000 and 500,000 Israelis living
in the United States today. The esti-
mates vary because the method of
counting them is imprecise. Like
patriarchal-period Hebrews, many
modern-day Israelis are leaving their
troubled homeland for greener, more
tranquil pastures. Thousands of Is-
raeli expatriates have found their
Goshen in America's immigrant
cauldrons of New York, Philadelphia
and Los Angeles. A smaller number
have made their way to Southeastern
Michigan. Their numbers, too, are
About 3,000 Israelis live in the
Detroit area and its environs. Some
have been here as long as 30 and 40
years. Most are university students,
professionals, businesspeople, scien-
tists. They are overwhelmingly mid-

dle class. The quintessential Israeli
cab driver probably does not exist in
Detroit. Like American Jewish De-
troiters, most Israelis here are strik-
ing deep roots. "Every (Israeli) who
stayed here in Michigan is on his two
feet," said one.
The Israelis are not segregated
into a ghetto, but are spread
throughout the Jewish and general
communities, primarily in Oak Park,
Southfield, Farmington Hills and
West Bloomfield. Some say they
socialize mostly with Israelis, others
have primarily American friends.
The community is not large or self-
sufficient enough to seal itself off
from the outside world.
They come for diverse reasons:
The young man, recently discharged
from the army, wants to see the
world; the professional or scientist
wants to further his education in a
specialization not taught in Israel.
Some come on sabbatical; others are
sent here by Israeli firms. Once set-
tled, few return to Israel to live.
Zvi Shevach came to New York
to study electronics almost 21 years
ago. Today he owns the Delet Door
Co. in Southfield. He and his wife,
Yaffa, in the U.S. 16 years, were in-
troduced by mutual friends at the
Jewish Community Center. Both
were in Detroit visiting relatives. It
turned out Yaffa knew Zvi's family in
Israel as well.
"I'm here mainly because of eco-
nomics," Zvi explains. "That's the


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